and an Alpine love affair
It was a case of love at first sight when the Canadian photographer first set eyes on the Val de Bagnes. Setting up in Valais, he has continued to explore the area ever since, tracking down beautiful settings and capturing them for posterity.
“Trop beau” (too beautiful). Those were the words Sébastien Albert uttered on first arriving in Verbier back in 1998, words he would repeat time and again as he discovered the wonders of the surrounding countryside. So often did they pass the Canadian photographer’s lips that he decided to name his little company after them. And so, Tro Bō Photo was born. For someone who grew up amid the “little hills” of Outaouais in western Quebec, the contrast in landscapes was striking. “I fell in love with Valais straightaway and with the cosmopolitan feel of Verbier. It’s an amazing cultural crossroads,” says the 39-year-old. Over the years he has forged friendships and laid down roots in the region, where he intends to stay forever, having made his home in Chemin-Dessus, in the commune of Vollèges. Friendship was the reason why Albert came to Verbier in the first place, as he explained: “My friends and I wanted to go snowboarding in Europe. We were recommended a few nice resorts and my pal Yves Garneau, who’s also a photographer, came to Verbier to check things out. He broke his back two months later, so I decided to come out and give him a hand.” It was then that his new life began, one shaped by the peaks and valleys that he would soon begin to capture on film. Recording stunning scenes on scenic walks, the self-taught photographer began to make a name for himself, so much so that in 2004, his passion became a profession, the Canadian giving up his career as a custom ski boot maker and swapping the snowboard for cross-country skis. His love for the mountains has remained intact ever since, a love he conveys by organising courses and workshops in nature photography. Next winter will see him open a store in Verbier by the name of Photo Verbier, where his images will be on display and on sale. “Mountainous landscapes change from one season to the next and from one altitude to the next,” says Albert. “Whenever you go up or down, the perspectives always change. Nothing ever stays the same. I feel at ease in this Alpine world. It inspires me.” La Pierre Avoi, one of his first summertime haunts in the region, continues to exert a magnetic hold over him, as does the Haut du Val de Bagnes, which he calls “a wild place, home to outstanding flora and fauna”. It is here that he regularly goes in search of perfect light, plays with depth and cloud and nurtures his burgeoning interest in macrophotography, the little details that make all the difference. And all the while, he utters those same words over and over, telling himself that it is all “too beautiful.”